How to Save on Back-to-School Shopping

Researchers agree that back to school spending is likely to see a dip this year. BIGresearch forecasts that back-to-school spending in 2009 will be 7.7 percent lower than last year’s. The results of a survey by BrandKeys suggest that back-to-school sales will decline 10 percent this year.

If you’re a parent budgeting for your kids’ back to school shopping, you don’t need a survey to tell you this. You’re probably already out there, looking for ways to save on your kids’ school supplies while still getting the biggest bang for your buck.

Here are some steps you can follow to stay on budget and some tips on smart and savvy back to school shopping –

  1. Identify what you really need to buy. Go over the school supplies list and then check off the items that your kids already have, which can be recycled, reused or handed down to a younger sibling. Notebooks with blank pages, sheets of paper, pencils, markers and other stationery, geometry tools, backpacks and several other items fall in this category. You don’t have to cut back on essentials, but if you can reuse or recycle something, you should.
  2. Make a list of shops, bargains and websites with the best deals. Start your research a few weeks ahead, shop around. Every store places certain items on clearance and marks up the prices on other items. With a little looking around, you’ll be able to snag the best deals on school supplies. Stores like Staples, for example, have crayons, pencils, pencil boxes and other items on clearance for pennies. Dollar shops always have some good deals on certain items. Don’t leave out the discount stores either. Or, consider shopping along with a couple of friends at a warehouse store, so you can buy items you all need in bulk and split the cost.
  3. Visit Garage Sales. You may find some great bargains on student desks, chairs, book shelves, stationery, lamps and other items that you may not find elsewhere. If the items are in re-usable condition, there’s no reason to overlook this avenue.
  4. Shop smart online. Visit sites like and Milo is a local shopping search engine that lets you compare prices and brands in local stores in your area. Deals2buy is updated with the best deals, mainly on electronics, computers and gadgets (and which school kid doesn’t need those?!). Most of them are limited-time deals, so if you really think something is a steal, go for it.
  5. Use coupons. Clip or print coupons wherever you find them. Save them in an organized and easily accessible manner and be sure to use them when you shop. Maybe you won’t use all of them, but sometimes, you never know which ones you’ll need.
  6. Take advantage of post back-to-school season deals. The real deals happen a few weeks after school starts. You’ll find incredible bargains on many school supplies. This is the best time to stock up on supplies for the next school year. 

With these tips, back to school shopping doesn’t necessarily have to be a budget breaker. With a little extra effort and thought, you could kick the school year off with great savings. You could, of course, start with Free Printable Cards that wish kids a great new school year, without costing you a dime.

Share some of your favorite tips on back to school savings.